Hometown: New Bern, N.C. | Number: 19 | Height: 5101 | Weight: 189 | Forty: 4.53 | 10-Yard: 1.58 | Bench: 20 | Vertical: 35.5” | Broad: 10-7 | Shuttle: 4.13 | L-Drill: 6.70 | Year: Junior | Twitter: @_Bigmikee1
The rise of playing JUCO level of football in 2016, to becoming a potential first round pick in 2018, is quite the meteoric rise. His one season at UCF was filled with impressive coverage, returns and interceptions. He does a great job utilizing the trail technique to stay in position for pass break ups and baiting quarterbacks into ill-advised throws. His ability to play the ball in the air really makes this technique work for him and his 35-inch vertical certainly helps. When playing off, which happened often in the Knights’ scheme, he has quick feet to mirror his man but there is room for improvement. He flashes above average instincts and it shows, as he often meets the ball and the receiver at the same time. He is better in man-to-man but proved that he understood his zone responsibilities in college. Often times, teams would run combo routes at him and he would break off his man to find the new receiver entering into his deep zone. His coverage skills alone make him an intriguing prospect in the draft but his electric kick and punt returns add icing on the cake. In 2017, he averaged 31.8 yards per kick return with two touchdowns, including a 95-yard game winner in a shootout against South Florida to end the regular season. His punt return game was not too shabby either, averaging 16.6 yards per return and also managed to tally a 65-yard touchdown against ECU. Despite his playmaking abilities, his long speed could be a concern in the NFL, as he posted a 4.53 forty-time at the combine. He lacks ideal height coming in at 5’10 but his vertical can help make up for that. He’ll need to improve upon his tackling ability too, as he tends to lower his head and misses his target. He often gives up too much separation underneath, which teams took advantage of. Watching him on film, he possesses some similar traits to 2017 first round pick Adoree Jackson. Both are smaller corners who at times lack physicality but can blow a game wide open with an electric play. Hughes could even be drafted around the same time as Jackson (18th overall).
2017 (Jr.): 2017 First Team (CB) and Second Team (Return Specialist) All-Conference in The American. Three-time The American Player of the Week (10/16, 10/30, 11/27) honoree. Named to the Paul Hornung Award Honor Roll on 10/2. Started 11 of 12 games as a cornerback. Returned 16 kicks for an average of 34.1 yards and two touchdowns and 13 punts for an average of 232 yards and one touchdown. Totaled 44 tackles, including 32 solo and 0.5 for loss. Placed team with 11 pass breakups and added four interceptions, including one for a touchdown.
Garden City CC: Earned National Junior College Athletic Association First Team All-America honors. Ranked fifth on the Broncbusters with 47 total tackles in 11 games. Recorded two interceptions. Broke up six passes. Returned kicks and punts, taking three back for touchdowns.
North Carolina: Saw action in 11 games as a true freshman. Recorded 10 tackles and broke up three passes. Returned one kickoff for 40 yards.
High School: Named First Team All-State by the Associated Press. Led New Bern to a 15-0 record and Class 4A State Championship. Was named MVP of the Class 4A State Championship game, rushing for 273 yards and accounting for seven TDs. Also played quarterback and punted in high school. Was named the No. 11 player in North Carolina, the No. 3 CB in N.C. and the No. 66 CB in the nation by Scout.com. Rated a four-star prospect, the No. 13 player in N.C. and the No. 18 athlete in the country by Rivals.com.